While it's not unusual to hear J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations performed on the harpsichord, the everyday keyboard of Baroque music, one might still wonder why a recording of this work on this instrument requires hybrid multichannel SACD technology. Apart from the obvious benefit of reproducing the sound and setting of Aapo Häkkinen's performance in the vibrant acoustic of St. Peter's Church, Siuntio, Finland, the super audio recording captures a great many of the nuances of the harpsichord that are normally lost in less sensitive formats, whether analog or digital. The timbres of the harpsichord are varied over the course of this performance, with 4" and 8" stops and two manuals at Häkkinen's disposal, and the judicious use he makes of them, along with varieties of touch and attack, are worth capturing in this closely detailed and intensely focused medium. For purists who abjure playing Bach on the piano, this album will certainly please because Häkkinen's mastery of the harpsichord is marvelously apparent throughout, and his playing is elegant and accurate with great expressive richness. Others who can take or leave the harpsichord and who generally prefer hearing the Goldberg Variations on piano certainly should listen to this recording to appreciate Häkkinen's subtlety of expression and articulation and to hear the work in one of the best sounding presentations ever to grace this masterpiece. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Goldberg Variations, BWV 988|